Archive for October 22nd, 2012

Cops disappointed by drivers’ phone use

| 22/10/2012 | 21 Comments

Leafleting motorists Weds 12 sept (247x300).jpg(CNS): Police have revealed that almost four dozen drivers have been ticketed for using their phones without a hands-free set while behind the wheel in the month since the law was implemented. The RCIPS said Monday that senior officers who had been initially encouraged by the public’s response to the new Traffic Law are now concerned that drivers are becoming complacent when it comes to cell phone driving.  In the first couple of weeks only a handful of tickets were issued in relation to driving while using a cell phone. However, one month into the ban, 45 people have now been issued with tickets, fining them $150 for using their phones.

“Initially we were encouraged by the response of the public to the ban,” said Superintendent Adrian Seales. “We have been talking about the dangers of cell phone driving for a long time and we welcomed the introduction of the law including the partial cell phone ban. We were aware it would take a huge cultural shift in the Cayman Islands for people to stop using their phones at the wheel, and that’s why we carried out an aggressive public education campaign in the weeks leading up to the start date  – Friday 21 September."

He said it was extremely disappointing that complacency now seems to be setting in with more drivers ticketed in the last half of the month than in the two weeks immediately following the implementation of the ban.

“My message to the minority who continue to use their phones without a hands-free kit is that they will be caught. I would urge them to use common sense. The legislation has been put in place for a very good reason — that reason is that cell phone driving is dangerous, it distracts drivers and could cause road crashes, serious injury or death,” Seales added.

In addition to the traffic tickets issued for cell phone driving, in the past month 88 people have been ticketed for failing to wear a seatbelt, another 22 for excessive tint on car windows, 67 for defective lights and  51 drivers have also received speeding tickets.

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Man admits rape at 11th hour

| 22/10/2012 | 42 Comments

Jeffrey Barnes.jpg(CNS): Jeffrey Barnes has admitted abducting and raping a 49-year-old woman. Just before his trial was due to start in the Grand Court on Monday morning, Barnes, albeit reluctantly and only with the prompting of his attorney, admitted that last October he abducted his victim from a bus stop on Shamrock Road and then took her to a deserted spot in Admiral's Landing, where he raped her. The guilty pleas were registered by the court at the eleventh hour, just before the crown opened its case against the 32-year-old man from George Town.

Following the admission, Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl Richards, QC, revealed the details of the case against Barnes before the judge adjourned the case for sentencing at a later date.

The DPP, who was prosecuting the matter on behalf of the crown and expecting a trial, told Justice Alex Henderson, who was scheduled to hear the case without a jury, that Barnes had abducted his victim from a bus stop at around 9:40am on 29 October. Prior to that, Barnes had been seen by witnesses attempting to abduct a teenage girl but because of the intervention by the witness, Barnes had driven away.

The rapist, whom police have described as a “dangerous and violent man”, soon turned his attention to a woman who was waiting for a bus to take her to work in George Town in the Red Bay area. He threatened his victim and pointed what appeared to be a gun wrapped in material at her as he forced her into the red Honda Civic he was driving that morning.

Richards told the court that Barnes then drove his victim to a deserted spot in Admiral’s Landing, where he parked the car and forced the woman to have sex at what she believed was gunpoint. He indicated a lake near to where they had parked and told his victim that was where people’s bodies were thrown when they were killed. 

The victim begged Barnes not to kill her as she told him she had four children. Barnes then raped the woman using a condom but after the attack he threw it into the bushes, where it was later recovered by police.

Following the forced act of intercourse, when Barnes also attempted to anally rape the woman, the victim refused to get back in the car and told her attacker she would not go to the police; as a result he drove off but the victim was able to get most of the numbers of the registration. As she began walking from the scene of the rape a householder spotted the woman in her distraught state and went to her assistance before calling 911.

Barnes had originally pleaded not guilty to the crime but reluctantly offered guilty pleas in the court on Monday morning. He was asked to repeat his pleas several times, and on the third count of attempted anal rape, Barnes at first said not guilty but after prompting by his attorney, Barnes re-entered a plea of guilty.

The sentencing was adjourned by Justice Henderson until 28 November in order for other outstanding matters against Barnes to also be addressed.

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RCIPS officers chase down rape suspect

| 22/10/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Police officers chased and arrested a suspect who fled from the scene of a reported rape in the early hours of Saturday morning. Shortly after 4:00am on Saturday 20 October, police received a report that a man had raped a woman within a house in the Prospect area. A man fled from the scene in a car when the officers arrived but they followed the vehicle, signaling the driver to stop. The driver failed to stop and sped into the North Sound Estates, where the car drove off the road into bushes. The officers immediately arrestedthe suspect on suspicion of rape and he remains in police custody while enquiries continue.. Police enquiries have revealed that the suspect is known to the victim. 

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Police nab suspect after shot fired in West Bay

| 22/10/2012 | 0 Comments

Police(2)_1.jpg(CNS): A man has been arrested and is in police custody after a shot was discharged in the West Bay area early Saturday morning and a gun and ammunition were subsequently recovered. About 3:00am on Saturday, police received a report that a shot had been fired in the area of North West Point Road. A vehicle was seen speeding off from the location towards the Turtle Farm. No one was injured in the incident. A short time later, police officers spotted the vehicle at the George Town Hospital. The vehicle was searched and a firearm and a quantity of ammunition were recovered. A 20-year-old man who was arrested at the location on suspicion of possession of an unlicensed firearm remains in police custody while enquiries continue.
 

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Man arrested for stabbing in George Town

| 22/10/2012 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A 49-year-old man is in hospital and a 25-year-old man is in police custody following a stabbing on Friday morning. The RCIPS say that at about 10:15am on 19 October they received a report that a man had been stabbed in Kingbird Drive, George Town. The victim was taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital, where he is currently being treated. His condition is described as critical, but stable. The suspect was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder. He remains in police custody while enquiries continue.

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Flag footbal group to launch girls school league

| 22/10/2012 | 0 Comments

(GCFFA): Competitive sports is growing for students of Grand Cayman with the whistle of approval from the NFL for the formation of a youth interschool league. An initiative of the Grand Cayman Flag Football Association (GCFFA), the NFL Youth Programme received support from Dart Cayman Islands, the current Women’s League sponsor. Flag football is one of the fastest growing sports in the Cayman Islands, and the positive feedback of participation from secondary schools on Island that support the introduction of the sport within the schools’ athletic curriculum, is a testament to its popularity.

By introducing the sport to high schools, the GCFFA’s aim is to expose more youth to flag football, help develop a sense of school pride, increase physical activity, and strengthen community and school relations.

With the support from Dart Cayman Islands, the initial fee required per player is CI$25, which includes an NFL reversible team-identified jersey and an NFL flag belt. The GCFFA also plan on having training camps with visiting NFL players and retired professionals to teach fundamental football basics.

"The development of youth programmes is very important to us here at Dart, particularly those that give children the opportunity to be active and try a sport that they might not otherwise have had the chance to enjoy. We also believe in healthy competition, and see the new youth programme as a way to foster a desire to achieve potential among the young players," said Joanne Lawson, Senior Manager for Organisational Development & Administration for Dart Enterprises. Joanne added that, on a personal level, she was very excited to learn that the programme was affiliated with the NFL as this will help to raise the profile of the league and hopefully attract more children to join in the fun.

The NFL Youth Programme has been running 16 years strong in the United States. Cayman’s version will introduce a boy’s and girl’s 5-a-side league, and all players regardless of athletic ability, skill or knowledge of the game are encouraged to join a team and enjoy the game.

Each school team will actually mirror current NFL teams such as the Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys or Greenbay Packers. Teams will be run by volunteer coaches within the community and the fundamentals of the sport will be taught, as well as life-skill principles like teamwork, accountability and sportsmanship.

The GCFFA has been in planning stages for the past year with most of the high schools on Grand Cayman and is looking to begin the NFL Youth Programme this fall. President of the GCFFA, Sophia Dilbert, revealed that, “it has been a long and arduous process however one we feel will pay dividends now that we have positioned the GCFFA to offer such an opportunity to the youth on the island. We believe this is the impetus needed to see the sport of flag football grow within the school environment.

“Our next step is recruiting volunteers who can commit a few days per week to assist in coaching a youth team.”

All football enthusiasts that can dedicate a few hours per week in coaching a high school team are asked to email the GCFFA with contact details andavailability at gcffa@ymail.com.

 

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Cayman’s best win again

| 22/10/2012 | 0 Comments

The Youth team in action (245x300).jpg(CISC): The recent Governor’s Cup J22 regatta, held over the weekend of the 15th-16th October 2012, was a great success. Luckily the wind was not as light as forecast, it didn’t rain (for the first time for a few years) and we had the Governor himself there to start the first race.The Governor’s Cup marks the start of the new sailing season after the long summer break and is always hotly contested. Nine boats were out on the water in near perfect conditions to compete over two days. Saturday saw three races run with the Governor HE is Duncan Taylorstarting the event. Just Leaving won all three races on the first day.

Behind them Scaramanga, Ciao, Mayhem and Moonstruck were all challenging. The Youth team skippered by Pablo Bertran were having some good starts and doing well upwind but were hampered by having no spinnaker for the downwind legs. Saturday night food and entertainment were provided by Eduardo Bernal with a Uruguayan Asado which had to be seen to be believed. The crew of Just Leaving must have overindulged more than most as their supremacy was challenged on the Sunday, first by Jane Moon and Ciao and then by Andrew Moon and Moonstruck who won the final two races. It wasn’t enough though and Just Leaving took the championship by a healthy margin. Mr and Mrs Moon came second and third respectively.

Mike Farrington, skipper of Just Leaving commented. “Obviously having had a great result in the J22 worlds in France this summer we were keen to come home and do well. We had a different person on the bow but we have sailed together before and we know the boat”. This is the fourth year in a row that Farrington and his team have taken the cup.

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RCIPS big draw for demoralized ex Jamaican cops

| 22/10/2012 | 44 Comments

(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) has recruited some 36 officers from Jamaica in its latest recruitment drive – more than two thirds of this year's vacancies. According to a report in the Jamaica Observer at the weekend, a senior police officer in the RCIPS said that Barbados and Jamaica were the countries where it had the biggest draw when it engaged in an open recruitment process. The RCIPS’ recruitment officer told the Jamaican paper that officers from that country adapt well to the “British model of policing” here. The report revealed that the Jamaican officers are attracted to Cayman not just for pay and conditions but because of better promotion prospects.

Human resource officer at the RCIPS, Camille Solomon, told the Jamaica Observer that in this year’s recruitment drive to fill 50 positions, 36 were taken by former members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force. "We have not had any significant areas of concerns and the vast majority of officers from the JCF have adapted well to the British model ofpolicing that we follow as an Overseas Territory police service," he said.

RCIPS Chief Inspector Robert Scotland added that applications from Jamaicans featured prominently.

"We do open recruitment from time to time, from the Caribbean, the US, Canada and the UK, but mostly from the Caribbean and the UK because of the similarity in structure of the police force," he said. "In the Caribbean, Jamaica and Barbados tend to be our biggest draws."

The Observer said that 106 officers resigned from the JCF last year and officers have complained about demoralization and of unpleasant working conditions. This included 12- to 18-hour work days, service vehicles that were without windows, stations that were in varying states of disrepair — including leaking roofs, were easily flooded, and some that were not equipped with sanitary conveniences — poor treatment by seniorofficers, and limited scope for professional advancement.

As a result of better conditions in Cayman and greater promotion possibilities about 30 members, from constable to sergeant, have gone to Cayman in the last three months, a senior Kingston policeman said. “I know of 10 in my immediate surroundings," he told the local newspaper. An officer from Mandeville added, "About nine of them from Mandeville have gone to Cayman and Bermuda in the past few months, and more are going."

With overlapping eight-hour flexible shifts, a basic annual starting salary for a police constable as KYD$32,280, an additional housing allowance of CI$7,800 and even a laundry allowance, the pay is also a lot better.

See Jamaica Observer article here

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$1.5M in duties waived

| 22/10/2012 | 34 Comments

(CNS): Despite its difficulties balancing the books, the government waived close to CI$1.5 million in duties during the last financial year. On top of existing discounts on building materials, government also reduced, waived or discounted duties on a range of goods for local business and profit making commercial enterprises as well individuals, charities schools and government departments. According to a list released to a local MLA following a freedom of information request, government cut or waived duty for business such as supermarkets, fireworks companies, hotels and heavy equipment operators between 1 July 2011 and 30 June 2012.

The vast majority of recipients were government related entities or charities but there were a number of large waivers to profit making entities which the independent MLA for North Side said was inappropriate given the current situation with public finances.

“It’s hard to have the money to pay your bills when you are giving it way,” Ezzard Miller said regarding the documents he received from the finance ministry. “How can government justify giving money away to profit making commercial entities unless you are giving it to all?”

He pointed to the existing 20% reduction on building materials for developers and wondered why some businesses were getting more on top when others were required to pay the full amount.

It is not clear what the criteria is for these discretionary waivers, although the majority have been given to charities, schools churches or the public sector, including the police and the HealthServices Authority. There are, however, individuals as well as small businesses and large commercial enterprises on the list that have been given substantial waivers, discounts and refunds on a variety of things.

“My concern is that these discretionary waivers apply to selected people and not across the board, which means other businesses are not getting the same competitive advantage,” Miller added.

Government is budgeted to collect well over $120 million in duty on imported goods — not including duty on fuel – as it remains a major source of government revenue.

See details of FOI request on duty waivers below.

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Voter drive targets 18,000

| 22/10/2012 | 21 Comments

IMG-20121011-00266.jpg(CNS): The Elections Office and the Grasp Your Future campaign are both hoping to see the Cayman Islands voter register boosted to over 18,000 as a result of the various efforts currently underway to ensure that everyone who is entitled to vote at the next election has a chance to do so. Deputy Supervisor of Elections Colford Scott said that the number of people out there that are eligible but have not registered is unknown and said the estimate of 10,000 circulated by local activists cannot be verified. However, he said there were several thousand people who could be voters in the May 2013 General Election but have not yet registered. Before the register closes to new electors for the general election on 2 January 2013, he said, the office expects the voters' list to have increased by about 3,000 more people.

In the latest update to the list, which was published on 1 October, there are 15,773 people registered, an increase of around 500 since the referendum on 18 July.

As the drive continues to try and attract as many people as possible, Supervisor of Elections Kearney Gomez pointed out the importance of registering to vote by 2 January, which is just 71 days away.

“There really is no good reason why you have not registered if you are qualified,” Gomez stated as he urged everyone eligible to do so to get on the voters list. “Take advantage of this opportunity to register, which will entitle you to vote in the May 2013 General Elections.”

The office is engaged in a full scale push and has mobile registration units out in the districts every weekend as well as an open door policy at the office.

Meanwhile, the Grasp you Future campaign is also actively engaged in a drive to attract as many of the 10,000 people they believe are out there as possible. Kenny Bryan, who is spearheading the grassroots push to boost the number pf electors, said he was disappointed that the Elections Office could not be more exact about the numbers.

“It is an important fact that I believe the office should be able to ascertain,” he added. “While I understand there are variables, the office should be able to tell us who is eligible. Even if these people may turn out not to be resident here in the last four years or have some other reason why they can’t in the first instance, we should have a figure that tells us how many people could vote, even if that has to be qualified.”

However, Bryan echoed the estimates of the Elections Office of an additional 3,000 people being on the voters list at this forthcoming election compared to the one used in the referendum this summer.

He said he was disappointed with the amount of young people he believes are out there that have not yet registered, a position he believes they may very well regret as the election date draws near and the country moves into campaign mode.

“Many people were disenfranchised in the referendum this summer because they missed the voter registration deadline for that vote after it was called so suddenly,” he said. “Lots of people then did not think hey were interested in politics but when the debate on that went public they found they were interested but were then unable to exercise their democratic right. Registering to vote doesn’t obligate you to vote but it gives you the choice.”

Nomination Day will be Wednesday 27 March 2013 and it will not be known until then who will be putting themselves forward as candidates. But by that time it will be too late for eligible voters to register in time for the national vote.

Bryan said that he and the Grasp Your Future campaigners were still manning the registration hot-lines and were able to assist anyone who wants to register. The group was continuing to encourage employers to host the team at their workplaces, he said, and they have conducted registration session in several offices in George Town and were scheduled for several more over the coming weeks.

Gomez said that he expected that, as is customary in Cayman, people would be leaving things until the last minute, so the Elections Office will be open until midnight on 2 January to give people every possible chance. But he urged those who are qualified not to leave things until then and to come by today.

“The right to vote is a great equalizer,” he said. “Your vote matters just as much as the next person's. However, in order to vote you must first be registered.”

With at least 18,000 people expected to be on the register in time for May 2013, the other pressing issue facing government is how they will be voting. The government has not yet made a decision regarding how the extra three MLAs will be slotted into the existing political landscape.

The premier rejected the majority vote in the recent referendum for one man, one vote because the number of ‘yes’ votes did not reach the artificially high goal of 50% of the entire electorate, but he has discussed the possibility of dividing the country into nine two-MLA constituencies based along a doubling up of the proposed single member constituencies. However, a promised committee to examine that does not appear to have been formed.

The Elections Office confirmed recently that they will need to know exactly how the three new seats will be incorporated before 12 December when the elections writs are issued.

For more information on registering to vote contact the Elections Office 949-8047 or the Grasp Your Future hotlines: 328 8683 or 928 8683.

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